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Home > News > PTI

Parties praise effort to discourage defections

December 18, 2003 18:52 IST

Terming it as an important step towards cleansing political system, the Congress on Thursday welcomed the amendment to the Constitution to debar defectors from holding office of profit till re-election besides automatic disqualification from Parliament and State legislatures.

Initiating a discussion on the 97th Constitution (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said, "The bill is an important step towards cleansing the political system, which has gathered a lot of dirt in recent years."

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Mukherjee heads the Standing Committee of Home Affairs that came up with the Bill. It incorporates all the important recommendations of the Standing Committee, including the one to do away with jumbo cabinets by restricting their size to 15 per cent of that of the Lok Sabha or State assemblies. In case of smaller states, the numbers of ministers would be restricted to 12.

B P Apte (BJP) said the need for this kind of stringent law was a commentary on the political culture in the country. The provision giving powers to Speakers to decide on defections should be reconsidered, he said adding merger by smaller parties and independents going scot free after defections should also be looked into.

Ravulaa Chandra Sekar Reddy (TDP) said regional parties had become the biggest casualties due to loopholes in the existing anti-defection law.

Supporting the bill, K Chandran Pillai (CPI-M) said the size of the council of ministers should be restricted to 10 per cent instead of the proposed 15 per cent. He also wanted the electorate to be given the right to recall a defector.

Rama Shankar Kaushik (Samajwadi Party) said powers of the Speakers to decide on defections have not been made clear in the amended Bill.

P C Alexander (Independent) wanted to know the need for a minimum of 12 ministers in small states when the bill had fixed 15 per cent as the upper limit.

More reports from Delhi
Read about: Assembly Election 2003 | Attack on Parliament

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